New Castle News

January 8, 2013

New Castle board preparing for charter school hearing

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — New Castle school administrators are compiling questions for organizers of a proposed charter school.

They are preparing for a public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday to hear a request of New Castle Arts Charter Academy, a fine arts-infused charter school, to locate downtown.

At the school board’s special meeting Monday night, district solicitor Charles Sapienza explained legalities of the process under the state school code.

He explained that should the board find reason to deny the application, the applicants can appeal to the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas. A judge would decide whether an appeal is merited and send the case to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Charter School Appeals Board to decide, he said.

In some cases, Sapienza noted, that state board has rejected charter school applications.

The New Castle board cannot make a decision before Feb. 13, but it must do so before March 15, Sapienza said. If issues and questions are not answered at Wednesday’s hearing, the board may request another hearing, Sapienza said, noting a stenographer will make an official record.

Superintendent George Gabriel told the board, “Don’t feel like Wednesday is it. There’s going to be lot of information.”

Sapienza said the applicants will offer a power point presentation, then board members and administrators may ask questions.

“It seems that they’re trying to squeeze years and years of work into one meeting,” board member Dr. Marilyn Berkely commented. “Whose bright idea was this?”

“Not ours,” Gabriel responded.